Business

Google gears up to enter gaming industry with Stadia cloud service

SAN FRANCISCO The ever-expanding Google becomes a gaming company tomorrow with the launch of its Stadia cloud service that lets people play console-quality video games on a Web browser or smartphone.

The Internet giant hopes to break into the growing US$135 billion (S$184 billion) global video game industry with cloud technology that could broaden audiences attracted by rich new features.

But analysts have said Stadia's outlook is uncertain as it faces rivals such as PlayStation Now in an emerging and highly competitive market.

Stadia plays into a trend in which content - ranging from blockbuster films to work projects - lives in the cloud and is accessible from any device.

"All of these new services are merely pointing out that we don't need sophisticated hardware in the home to access entertainment," said Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter.

Google last month sold out of Founder's Edition kits, which are priced at US$129.

Each kit contains a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into television sets.

Stadia games are playable using Google Chrome Web browser software on computers. It also works with Google-made Pixel smartphones from the second-generation onwards and on televisions.

Stadia Pro subscriptions, priced at US$10 a month in the US, will be available in 14 countries in North America and Europe.

But analysts have said that Stadia could wind up as another "bet" that Google walks away from if it fails to live up to expectations.

"Stadia will live or die by its content," said Ovum senior analyst George Jijiashvili.

"The announced 12 launch titles are underwhelming." - AFP

BUSINESS & FINANCE